Therefore, take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. Teach them to your children, speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. And write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, so that, as long as the heavens are above the earth, you and your children may live on in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers he would give them.”
These words are Scripture for both Jews and Christians. For Jews, they are part of the Shema, an often-recited prayer comprising three passages of the Torah. Later, Jesus quotes the Shema (though not this particular passage) in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. For Christians as for Jews, Deuteronomy 11:18-21 follows the receipt of the law by Moses– words he received directly from God for us to direct our lives on earth.
God asks that we take God’s words and make them our own.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite hymns is Take My Life (ELW 685, for those playing the home game!). Sung to PATMOS, its words stop me every time. They’re words I can’t just sing mindlessly while thinking what to have for lunch. They break through, no matter how elsewhere I may be when the hymn begins:
Take my life, that I may be
consecrated, Lord, to thee;
take my moments and my days;
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands…take my feet…
Take my voice…take my lips…
Take my silver and my gold…take my intellect…
Take my will…take my heart…
Take my love…take myself…
It’s the perfect hymn. Before I heard it, I don’t think I ever was asked to direct my intellect for God’s use. To be honest, it was more implied that your intellect would get you in trouble; you should be all heart. Well, I’m not all heart. I’m largely made of words, as it turns out. And so: I offer my words to God to use as God will.
All words are, in a sense, taken– whatever utterances we make, we make them from words that others have shaped, made, and left for us to draw from.
And I ask that you, the reader, take these words as my little gift. May they be useful!